LRDG meetings held in 2006
24 Jan - Lenny Baer and Anita Wilson, Lancaster University
Visual Imprints on the Prison Landscape: A Geolinguistic
People make statements in many ways, not just through words but also
in actions expressed through the spaces around them. In the mundane reality
of prison life, prisoners mark, remark, and modify their surroundings.
Each mark can have layers of meaning. Everyday actions, like decorating
a cell, scratching a name on a chair, or covering stains with paper or
blankets, can be revealing about the identity and personal wellbeing of
prisoners. In this study, we are beginning to examine the visual imprints
that people make on prison landscapes, and the possible meanings and implications
of those imprints to prisoners. We view prisons as living texts. In a
sense, we are learning to read all over again, through a medium other
than the written word.
In discussing our work, we are especially interested in exploring the
possibilities of geography-linguistics collaborations around concepts
of place, and the ways that one discipline might benefit the other. Ideally,
theoretical frameworks from one discipline can be applied to the other,
making unexpected conceptual leaps to set the stage for changes within
Possible questions for discussion:
In what ways might geographic thought be applied to linguistics, and
vice versa? How might ideas from other disciplines inform geolinguistic
Prisoners have various ways of transforming institutional spaces into
personal spaces. How might such transformations reflect or magnify the
ways that we personalise other spaces?
When and why do people intentionally alter some spaces and not others?
To what extent might the reasons for changing spaces be distinct to a
particular setting, such as a prison?
31 Jan - Sondra Cuban, Lancaster University
Doing feminist ethnographic research in an era of welfare
reform in the U.S.
I find that feminist ethnography is a powerful perspective
— for bringing women’s lived experiences into policy
debates and for seeing the gendered nature of the literacy field. In this
talk, I share my experience of using feminist ethnography to locate contradictions
in welfare reform in the U.S., and I consider its implications
for literacy research, policy, and practice.
7 Feb - Susan Jolliffe
Widening or Increasing Participation?
This presentation will consider some of the issues raised from a ''telling"
case study of an ESF funded project, targeted at women returners in Suffolk.
Learner voices are the main source of information regarding recruitment,
retention and progression analysis. This perspective is put into context
by the inclusion of local and national policy guidelines and directives.
The research evolved into a consideration of the project's planned and
actual outcomes, with the corresponding implications for widening participation.
14 Feb - Corinne Fowler, Lancaster University
The literacy practices of journalists reporting ‘Operation
Enduring Freedom’ in Afghanistan, 2001
This presentation will explore the social impact of journalists’
literacy practices in the domain of war reporting. The shifting demands
associated with reporting conflict have engendered particular practices
among journalists. Factors such as 24-hour news channels, the decline
in resources allocated to international news coverage and the practice
of ‘parachuting’ non-specialist reporters into conflicts mean
that ‘barefoot’ journalism has become a rare luxury that time
constraints rarely permit. I will examine the ways in which war correspondents
carried out their background researches into Afghanistan in 2001.
Of particular relevance is the legacy of traumatic nineteenth-century
Afghan-British encounters to the popular British imagination. Trapped
at the Afghan border weeks after the conflict had begun, war reporters
turned to nineteenth-century narratives, most particularly the fiction
of Rudyard Kipling. This presentation will explore the causes and consequences
of these practices and their relationship to the history of British ideas
2 Mar - Literacy Research Group (LRC) and Language
Ideology and Power Research Group (LIP)
Discourses in Place: A Workshop with Ron and Suzie Scollon
Ron and Suzie will start the workshop off with
a short introduction to their work for those not familiar with it. Following
this, there will be short inputs from people who have been using
ideas from the 'Discourses in Place' framework to interpret specific
pieces of data . Ron and Suzie will respond to these and
we will then open a general discussion.
Materials relevant to the workshop will be posted on the LLRC website
ahead of time and see also http://www.aptalaska.net/~ron/ron
14 Mar - Michael Brophy, Africa Educational Trust
Teaching literacy in Somalia, a radio-based
This seminar is about a radio-based literacy and life skills project
that the Africa Educational Trust (AET) and the BBC World Service Trust
have developed for teaching literacy in the Somali language across Somalia
and Somaliland. To date 30,000 people (mainly women) have completed the
course, passed the final examination and have been awarded certificates.
This non-formal education project uses content which was developed in
consultation with the learners and is directly related to their everyday
life skills and literacy needs.
21 Mar - Eliza Mood, Lancaster University
Literacies of Literature: Processes of Writing and Editing
This seminar will look at processes of writing and editing
a first novel with the epithet (my own and the publisher's), 'literary'.
I will draw on examples from the editing of my work to explore the tension
between the dual role of the writer as producer of a readerly cultural
artefact as well as the writerly role from which stance there is no artefact,
only historical process. I attempt to uncover some aspects of the the
productive relationship between narrative and non-narrative voices in
this process. In negotiating a way through these tensions and relationships,
the writer takes on new literacies and may contest an autonomous notion
of literacy implicit in perceptions of what constitutes a literary artefact.
25 Apr - Robert Blake and Moira Peelo, Student Learning
Development Centre, Lancaster University
Embedding the development of writing within a science faculty:
a case study of a postgraduate writing course.
Our talk explores the experience of teaching a writing module to postgraduate
scientists from a large science faculty. Students on this course are drawn
from a range of scientific departments and are working for different degrees
at different levels, some on taught courses and some by research. It describes
the process of changing the design and philosophy of what had been an
inherited course, based on a study skills model of writing to one which
acknowledges writing as a social practice. The themes of collaboration
and cooperation with science lecturers are explored as a means of investigating
the writing practices of postgraduate scientists.
This experience raises a number of questions for the development of writing:
Pedagogical and practical ones concerning how to embed writing development
within assessed degree schemes and the relationships with subject experts
in this provision.
The effectiveness of generic writing courses for scientists and whether
there is such a genre as scientific writing.
It illustrates the complexity of defining an appropriate context within
which there could be said to be ‘shared academic practices'.
2 May - Lydia Tseng, Lancaster University
'Intercontextuality' and 'Recontextualisation' in Learning
and Teaching Argumentation
In this presentation, I explore the learning and teaching of argumentation
in an EFL writing class. The notion of 'intercontextuality' is applied
to trace the relationship between speaking and writing in the learning-teaching
of argumentation. Drawing upon Bernstein's notion of 'recontextualisation'
(1990,1996), I illustrate how various elements of social practices from
pedagogic and non-pedagogic contexts are selected and relocated in the
learning-teaching of argumentation. This analysis reveals how opportunities
for the learning of argumentative writing are created and regulated.
9 May - Chair: David Barton
“What am I reading?”
Bring along your current favourite Literacy related book to tell everyone
about, or come along and listen to the latest ideas.
23 May - Friederike Lüpke, SOAS London
Beneath the surface – Arabic-based scripts in West Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa is often characterised as a an area lacking precolonial
written traditions (Olson and Torrance 2001), some marginal exceptions
like the G’eez and N’ko scripts notwithstanding. Language
planning throughout Africa therefore focuses on ‘grapization’
(Fishman 1974) or script development, based on the Roman alphabet. The
resulting literacies often merely serve as a stepping stone towards literacy
in the respective official (colonial) languages instead of promoting reading
and writing in the vernaculars, as also observed for the pacific context
(Mühlhausler 1990). Yet there exists a widely unknown alternative
to Latin-based scripts – Ajami, a modified Arabic script. Ajami
has been used for centuries for the writing of major African languages
in the sphere of influence of Islam, such as Swahili, Hausa, Kanuri, Fula,
Soso, Wolof (for this language the script is called Wolofal) and several
Manding varieties. Where a precolonial literary tradition is present,
it consists mainly of works written in Ajami, true to the dictum that
‘alphabet follows religion’ (Diringer and Regensburger 1968)
Although officially replaced by standardised Roman orthographies for some
languages, Ajami literacies continue to play an important, albeit completely
informal, role, since every person with a Koranic education is able to
read and write it. Literacy statistics in Ajami are not available, although
it is expected that due to the prevalence of Islamic education over formal
schooling in many of the concerned regions, literacy in Arabic/Ajami is
much higher than in Latin based scripts. This existing competence is completely
disregarded in official language planning, but at least rhetorically exploited
Islamic standardisation projects, where Ajami is closely linked to Islamic
identity. My talk will explore where Arabic-based scripts are used and
what their social functions are for a number of West African languages.
30 May - Robert Crawshaw, Corinne Fowler, Graham Mort and Lynne Pearce
‘Moving Manchester/Mediating Marginalities: How the experience
of migration has informed the work of writers in Greater Manchester from
1960 to the present.’
In January 2006 the Faculty of Humanities at Lancaster University received
its biggest ever research grant. Work has since begun on the AHRC-funded
project, which has recently received the new name of ‘Moving Manchester’.
The project explores creative writing from Greater Manchester that has
been informed and influenced by the experience of migration. The research
team comprises literary critics, cultural theorists and creative writers
and the project is unique in combining critical analysis with pro-active
‘literature development’ in its mission to produce an anthology
of new work as well as a full academic study.
This presentation will detail the project aims and give an account of
progress made so far. One of the most important project outputs is an
electronic catalogue of creative writing that will take the form of an
annotated bibliography. The e-catalogue is designed to widen knowledge
of this writing and to facilitate access to it. We will show sample entries
from this catalogue. As well as explaining our methodology in relation
to key constituencies of writers identified so far, we will discuss the
ethical and political dilemmas encountered by the research team in attempting
to involve the wider public in its research. We will outline the process
of negotiation and re-configuration necessitated by a critical engagement
with creative writers, communities, independent publishers and agencies
that have long played a role in promoting this writing. We can also recommend
some excellent new reads!
6 June - Alisa Belzer, Rutgers and Ralf St. Clair
The challenges of consistency: National systems for assessment
and accountability in adult literacy education
Assessment has been an increasingly important area of interest for several
decades now. We look at the way assessment flows into accountability in
national systems. If assessment is considered as a way to transmit information
between individual learners and the educational system, our interest here
is how that system receives the information and what it does with it.
Our discussion will look briefly at the background and key features of
national systems generally before moving into three case studies (US,
England, and Scotland) of assessment and accountability systems, and will
be followed by analysis of what can be drawn from the experiences in these
three national settings.
13 June - Amy Burgess
The relationship between time, discourses and artefacts in the
process of contextualising the learning of writing
I am carrying out an ethnographic study of the writing development of
students in three adult literacy classes. My paper will focus on how the
tutor and students in one class produced the context for a writing activity.
I view context not as an entity but rather as a process of contextualising
and consider the roles played by time, discourses and artefacts in that
process. I will start by explaining why I have found it useful to include
a time dimension in my analysis of context and why I have chosen to focus
on the relationship between time and discourses. I will identify the discourses
of which I found evidence in this particular context before discussing
two examples of artefacts used by the participants. I hope to show how
the tutor and students used the artefacts to carry out the dual process
of transferring discourses across different timescales and weaving together
different aspects of time.
20 June - Pat Thomson, Nottingham University
The Makeover:A New Logic Of Practice In Policy Making?
The makeover is a genre of (televised) activity which aims to produce
a transformation in appearance, behaviour and/or identity. One well known
variant, seen in programmes such as What not to wear, Groundforce and
How clean is your house, has the following characteristics:
(1) the object of the activity – self, home, garden etc –
becomes a project.
(2) the object must be subjected to critique – voluntary is best
– and shown to be deficient. The critique mobilises normative presentations
of class, gender, race and sexuality
(3) because the object of the activity is incapable of self correction
- it lacks appropriate know-how and networks (cultural/social capital),
this must be provided in the form of the expert/expertise.
(4) the object of the activity is made over in public – the transformation
must be seen to be done
(5) the object of the activity cannot be trusted to continue with the
game and must be inspected and updated.
(6) The self as ongoing project is thus established together with the
ongoing need for external expertise.
We suggest that this is the dominant form at work in UK policy, with schools
recently subjected to both leadership (Gunter, 2001) and creativity (Hall
& Thomson, 2005) makeovers in an effort to mop up the worst effects
of the institutional makeover/takeover (Beck, 1999) effected by neoliberalism
and New Public Management. .
This variant is not the only version of makeover. I look at other makeover
manifestations such as the simulation promoted in Faking it, the development
of counter perspectives offered via The Unteachables and the clout wielded
by celebrity educational makeover Jamie’s Dinners. I also note that
some makeovers , specifically the Pop Idol, X Factor talent quests and
Who do you think you are geneology projects, do not presuppose that makeover
subjects begin as empty vessels and work from the base principle that
the people featured do possess skills, knowledges and the capacity to
manage their own learning. I argue that the transformative potential offered
by the makeover should not be simply dismissed: policy activists could
gain from playing with the implications of makeover variants, and thinking
how they might translate into public action against the excesses of teacher
deskilling, centralized curriculum prescription, crude steerage via inspections
and tests and false promises of new kinds of self determination.
27 June - Nan Jackson, Partnership Education Service Manager, Rochdale,
currently seconded to write an all-age literacy policy for the Borough
Reclaiming Family Literacy
Rochdale LEA has been working in the field of parental involvement in
their children’s learning since the late 1970’s, beginning
with the Belfield Reading Project. (Hannon and Jackson 1987). I will discuss
our journey from there to the present LSC Family Literacy, Language and
Numeracy model of family literacy, and our responses to this agenda. I
will look in particular at the way we use creative arts to engage learners
from different communities. I will raise some of the issues, assumptions
and challenges of seeing family literacy mainly in the context of the
Skills for Life agenda, and why it is important to include practioners,
learners and researchers in the discussion about a wider definition of
10 Oct - Roz Ivanic and Candice Satchwell, Lancaster University
Reading and Writing the Self as a College Student: Fluidity
and ambivalence across contexts
The Literacies for Learning in Further Education project is
finding that students identify with the reading and writing that they
do in some contexts, but not in others. We are finding that students vary
in the extent to which they identify with the roles and positions inscribed
in texts and practices the encounter in college. Our aim is to find ways
of making the reading and writing associated with their college courses
more compatible with their sense of who they are and who they want to
become. In this presentation we explore some of these issues, and open
up discussion about how ‘literacy practices’ are related to
17 Oct - Kate Pahl, University of Sheffield
Narratives of migration and artefacts of identity: new imaginings
and new generations
This presentation will describe an AHRC-funded research project, conducted
with Andy Pollard, Sheffield Hallam, working with the Pakistani/Kashmiri
community in Rotherham with a school and a Sure Start centre, to develop
an exhibition of artefacts and narratives of migration, together with
visual artist, Zahir Rafiq, and the Clifton Park museum in Rotherham.
The project aimed to develop an exhibition, due to be put on in February
2007, and a website (www.ferhamfamilies.com) as a result of the research.
In this talk I will explore the following questions: What identity narratives
are salient to second, third or fourth generation families settled in
Rotherham of Pakistani/Kashmiri origin? What is the relationship between
narratives and artefacts in the home, and how much are artefacts ways
of upholding identity narratives? How do space and place figure within
these narratives? Through description of the construction of the website
and the museum exhibition, and the navigation of the project through the
community partners, I will explore the relationship between space, place
and identity narratives.
24 Oct - Marilyn Martin Jones and Buddug Griffith, University of Birmingham,
and Anwen Williams, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor
Land, language and literacy:
The working/learning lives of agriculture students in North Wales
This paper is based on ethnographic research on literacy currently in
progress with young people in two rural settings in North Wales. The work
is being carried out as part of a wider research project entitled: Bilingual
literacies for learning in Further Education. Our main focus is on forty
young Welsh speakers (in the 16 to 19 age range), on the ways in which
they draw on literacies in different languages in their everyday lives,
at home, at college and at work, and on the social identities and cultural
values associated with these literacies. We are documenting a broad range
of literacy practices, including reading, writing, the use and/or production
of texts in different media and the use of different technologies.
In this paper, we present case studies of students who are enrolled in
a bilingual, Level 3 course leading to a BTEC National Diploma in Agriculture.
The course is offered at a Further Education (FE) college which is the
leading post-16 provider of bilingual and Welsh-medium education in Wales.
While pursuing their studies at this FE college, the students are also
running their own small agricultural businesses and see their futures
as being tied up with local land-based industries. We provide an account
of the specific ways in which literacies are embedded in the working/learning
lives of these young people and we examine the nature and scope of the
reading and writing that they do at work and at college.
This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council
through its ‘Teaching and Learning Research Programme’,
over a two year period from May 2005 to August 2007.
31 Oct - Susan Orr, York St John University College
Transparent Opacity: Assessment in the inclusive academy
Academic literacies researchers view writing as a situated social practice
(see for example, Clark & Ivanic 1997, Lillis 2001). This perspective
foregrounds issues of culture, politics, context, power and identity.
In this presentation I want to apply an academic literacies gaze on assessment
research. My key argument is that academic literacies research has much
to offer this field. Focusing on language as meaning-making (as opposed
to message carrying) I will explore the disjuncture between written assessment
guidelines and students’/staffs’ multiple understandings.
This leads me to contest the notion of ‘transparent’ learning
outcomes which form a mainstay of current assessment policy and research
(e.g. Biggs 2001). I will identify and critique the techno-rationalism
inherent in aspects of contemporary assessment and I will counter this
with a focus on assessment as a social practice. I will go on to explore
the ways that techno-rationalism serves to veil the power relations inherent
in the act of assessment.
7 Nov - Dr. Jeff Evans, Middlesex University Business School
Emotions in Literacy and Numeracy Research?: Sidelight, Nuisance,
or Necessary Ingredient?
I start from a discursive practice approach to understanding numerate
(or broadly ‘mathematical’) reasoning and practices, and in
particular the role of affect and emotions in these processes. My approach
draws on Critical Discourse Analysis, work on pedagogic discourses in
the sociology of education, and poststructuralist analyses, incorporating
In this talk, I will discuss and illustrate a number of propositions
about the role of affect and emotions in this area:
-Affect and emotions must be understood as socially organised, rather
than as individual characteristics (or behaviours).
-Emotions, rather than being the fount of irrationality, are essential
to the making of rational decisions.
-The influences on emotions towards mathematics, include constructions
of early experiences and the images of mathematics and mathematicians
in popular culture.
-The study of the emotions opens research up towards psychoanalytic perspectives.
14 Nov - Dr. Awena Carter, Lancaster University
What writing does for the writer: exploring the ways in which
three dyslexic children transformed their reading, their viewing and their
experiences into stories for Christmas.
Steedman (1982:99) asserts that in children’s writing ‘we
need to look for what the writing does for the writer, not what the writer
does to it, nor what it does for us.’ In this work in progress I
am exploring the ways in which three dyslexic children drew on books and
films, and on events in their own lives, to write story books for Christmas.
I look for both actual intertextuality and interdiscursivity (Ivanic,
1998: 48) and the ways in which these
- resonate with and transform the children’s experiences in the
creative act of story writing
- play a part in the development of their literacy practices.
Ivanic, R, 1998. Writing and Identity. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Steedman, C, 1982. The Tidy House. London: Virago
5 Dec - Eamon McCafferty, Lancaster University
Two papers, two lives: Reggie and Jimmy writing for publication
In this talk I present data from work-in-progress which is exploring
the professional literacy practices of a small group of university EFL
instructors in Japan. Working backwards from papers submitted for publication
by two of the participants, I observe processes involved in both the construction
of the texts and the authors. Taking as orienting theory four aspects
Barton et al (2006) consider crucial for linking learning and lives -
history, current identities, current life circumstances, imagined futures
- I aim to open the way for further discussion of the cultural values
and social identities embedded in 'advanced' writing practices found in
higher education and its environs.